H&M and Other Retailers Regularly Destroy Unsold Clothes

Discussion in 'Designers and Collections' started by lucy92, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. lucy92

    lucy92 Mod Squad Team Leader

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    A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed

    By JIM DWYER
    In the bitter cold on Monday night, a man and woman picked apart a pyramid of clear trash bags, the discards of the HM clothing store that reigns in blazing plate-glass glory on 34th Street, just east of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.
    At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M’s back door. The man and woman were there to salvage what had not been destroyed.
    He worked quickly, never uttering a word. A bag was opened and eyed, and if it held something of promise, was tossed at the feet of the woman. She said her name was Pepa.
    Were the clothes usually cut up before they were thrown out?
    “A veces,” she said in Spanish. Sometimes.
    She packed up a few items that had escaped the blade — a bright green T-shirt that said “Summer of Surf,” and a dark-blue hoodie in size 12, with a Divided label. The rest was returned to the pyramid.
    It is winter. A third of the city is poor. And unworn clothing is being destroyed nightly.
    A few doors down on 35th Street, hundreds of garments tagged for sale in Wal-Mart — hoodies and T-shirts and pants — were discovered in trash bags the week before Christmas, apparently dumped by a contractor for Wal-Mart that has space on the block.
    Each piece of clothing had holes punched through it by a machine.
    They were found by Cynthia Magnus, who attends classes at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on Fifth Avenue and noticed the piles of discarded clothing as she walked to the subway station in Herald Square. She was aghast at the waste, and dragged some of the bags home to Brooklyn, hoping that someone would be willing to take on the job of patching the clothes and making them wearable.
    A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Melissa Hill, said the company normally donates all its unworn goods to charities, and would have to investigate why the items found on 35th Street were discarded.
    During her walks down 35th Street, Ms. Magnus said, it is more common to find destroyed clothing in the H & M trash. On Dec. 7, during an early cold snap, she said, she saw about 20 bags filled with H & M clothing that had been cut up.
    “Gloves with the fingers cut off,” Ms. Magnus said, reciting the inventory of ruined items. “Warm socks. Cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor. Men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.” The jackets were tagged $59, $79 and $129.
    This week, a manager in the H & M store on 34th Street said inquiries about its disposal practices had to be made to its United States headquarters. However, various officials did not respond to 10 inquiries made Tuesday by phone and e-mail.
    Directly around the corner from H & M is a big collection point for New York Cares, which conducts an annual coat drive.
    “We’d be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us,” said Colleen Farrell, a spokeswoman for New York Cares.
    More than coats were tossed out. “The H & M thing was just ridiculous, not only clothing, but bags and bags of sturdy plastic hangers,” Ms. Magnus said. “I took a dozen of them. A girl can never have enough hangers.”
    H & M, which is based in Sweden, has an executive in charge of corporate responsibility who leads the company’s sustainability efforts. On its Web site, H&M reports that to save paper, it has shrunk its shipping labels.
    “How about all the solid waste generated by throwing away usable garments and plastic hangers?” Ms. Magnus asked in a letter to the executive, Ingrid Schullstrom. She volunteered to help H & M connect with a charity or agency in New York that could put the unsold items to better use than simply tossing them in the trash. So far, she said, she has gotten no response.
    On Monday night, Pepa’s shopping bag held a few items. She pointed to her gray sweatpants. “From here,” she said.
    How about coats?
    “Maybe tomorrow,” she said.


    nytimes.com
     

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  2. Scott

    Scott Stitch:the Hand

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    this is pretty disturbing. and one can only imagine it's capitalistic selfishness. to think so much of this so-called waste could be donated to people who might not have much.
     
  3. lucy92

    lucy92 Mod Squad Team Leader

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    this is from H&M's corporate responsibility section on their website.
    http://www.hm.com/us/corporateresponsibility__responsability.nhtml

    What do you do with surplus clothes?We donate clothes that do not meet H&M's quality requirements to charity organisations like Oxfam, Caritas, the Red Cross and Terre des Hommes. Each store is itself responsible for clothes that are returned to it. Often there is an agreement that the clothes will be passed on to a suitable local charity organisation. Naturally we never give away clothing that does not comply with our safety requirements and Chemical Restrictions. Such items are destroyed.
     
  4. La bordélique

    La bordélique earthbound

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    This is silly. The bags should all be donated.
     
  5. diorrnottwarr

    diorrnottwarr New Member

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    From working in retail I know that if a style or fabric or anything really is recalled, the merch has to be pulled off the floor and destroyed even if it is perfectly wearable. While definitely wasteful, it all comes down to liability. If recalled styles were donated or given away, there could be a slew of (mostly BS) lawsuits that would spring up involving people complaining about rashes, irritations, the works. I completely understand why this is done but if the merch that was tossed in the article was not recealled or mandated to be removed, thats absolutely ridiculous.

    Also, many designers and high end boutiques will do that to clothing after the seasons pass and articles still aren't selling on markdown. I read once, I believe in Deluxe by Dana Ross (fabulous read), that most companies practice "slash n' trash" in order to maintain the exclusivity and image of the brand. It's not necessarily economically friendly or kind, but it makes sense.

    However, I can't imagine any excuses that places such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and the like could drum up.
     
  6. tigerrouge

    tigerrouge don't look down

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    If they can't give the garments away, the next best outcome would be to find some way to recycle the materials so they can be put to a new use in a new form.
     
  7. lucy92

    lucy92 Mod Squad Team Leader

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    H&M also destroys the items that are not sold from the designer collaborations with Stella Mccartney, Cavalli etc.

    Target on the other hand donates clothing items to Goodwill and resells other items to discount stores such as Big Lots, Dollar Stores etc.
     
  8. Scott

    Scott Stitch:the Hand

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    ^exactly. i've seen stuff from a local discount store that has loads of items from target.

    i don't like this at all. while i understand the points about defectiveness and everything, something about this just screams of pure snobbery in my view. keep things exclusive. and i also find it a bit hypocritical to destroy things behind the walls,all the while preaching about sustainability and the environment on the store front. imo,if things are truly as defective they deem they should send the items back to the manufacturers and have them properly treat the problems and recycle everything.
     
  9. mikeijames

    mikeijames no tom ford, no thanks.

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    it's not just clothing retailers that participate in this practice. if this makes you sick, just imagine furniture stores and others who destroy lots of merchandise due to "quality" issues.
     
  10. Dkammern

    Dkammern DÔMMkammern

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    ^^ that was my first thought when i read about this earlier today... i mean, how is this "news"?
    many industries do this. high end fashion brands do this.
    i don't know if it is a rumour, but before the "sample sale" craze of these days in the affluent late 90s and early 00s when one would rather go naked than wear last season's clothes, houses like, say chanel, would rather BURN unsold clothes than giving them away.
    i'm not justifying this, and the h&m thing is kind of gross, but what about other un-donable merchandise... what exactly would you do with 5 seasons old, 15cm high, chanel quilted wedges?
     
  11. ad041715

    ad041715 New Member

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    This is so horrible. H&M is one of my favorite clothing stores! :( The part that really irks me is that they ruin the clothes to make them unwearable! Some people would kill for a coat during the winter in this economy, or shoes or any clothes for that matter.
     
    #11 ad041715, Jan 6, 2010
    Last edited by moderator lpin: Jan 6, 2010
  12. silk skin paws

    silk skin paws doldrums

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    Yeah the same is done for food as well so I'm not surprised:(
     
  13. papa_levante

    papa_levante oh! darling

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    I can't imagine what clothing becomes unwearable that it has to be pulled and burned. :huh: Like, if clothing is tainted with a virus in its threads or has a third sleeve sticking out the back, I can understand. But how could clothing be the cause of a lawsuit that it would have to be destroyed even before being donated?
     
  14. Leeroi

    Leeroi New Member

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    There's a lot of problems with dyes and fabrics causing mass allergies. Same with toys that have paint that contain allergens.
     
  15. lucy92

    lucy92 Mod Squad Team Leader

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    because H&M are hypocrites. this goes against everything they've been campaigning about for years.

    and if many people knew this was happening they would want to shop at other retailers instead.

    in fact H&M has a 'sustainable" collection coming out this season
    you can check out their press release here.
    http://www.hmthegardencollection.com/

    how does this new collection "contribute to a more sustainable world" *in their words* if they are just going to throw it away if it doesnt sell? :unsure:
     
    #15 lucy92, Jan 6, 2010
    Last edited by moderator : Jan 6, 2010
  16. lucy92

    lucy92 Mod Squad Team Leader

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    Clothing Retailer Says It Will No Longer Destroy Unworn Garments

    By JIM DWYER
    The clothing retailer H & M promised on Wednesday to stop destroying new, unworn clothing that it cannot sell at its store in Herald Square, and would instead donate the garments to charities.
    The practice was discovered by Cynthia Magnus, a graduate student at the City University of New York, who found bags of unworn but mutilated clothing that had been thrown away by H & M on West 35th Street. She also found bags of new Wal-Mart garments with holes punched through them.
    After Ms. Magnus wrote to H & M’s headquarters in Sweden and got no response, she contacted The New York Times. More slashed clothing was found Monday night on 35th Street and reported in the About New York column on Wednesday.
    “It will not happen again,” said Nicole Christie, a spokeswoman for H & M in New York. “We are committed 100 percent to make sure this practice is not happening anywhere else, as it is not our standard practice.”
    Ms. Christie said it was H & M’s policy to donate unworn clothing to charitable groups. She said that she did not know why the store on 34th Street was slashing the clothes, and that the company was checking to make sure that none of its other stores were doing so.
    A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Melissa Hill, said she had been unable to learn why new clothing with the store’s tags had been destroyed, but added that the company typically donated or recycled such items.
    One charitable program, the New York Clothing Bank, was set up by the city when Edward I. Koch was mayor to accept unworn clothing and to protect the retailers from people who might use the donations to get store credit or undercut sales.
    “I would welcome H & M, Wal-Mart and every enterprise that presently is destroying new clothing to call me immediately,” said Mary Lanning, chairwoman of the Clothing Bank.



    nytimes.com
     
  17. Desi

    Desi Once King

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    i remember ripping up strategy guides and stomping tons of games when i was working at Gamestop. If something rung up to one cent it was supposed to be took out of the system. So we broke em, normally I would take a handful of guides home though.
     
  18. simons

    simons Member

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    ^ that statement above is bs. the company knows it. i have friends that work at h&m and every week or so they would get all the damaged goods and cut them so that they cannot be worn and also cutting off the labels. im not sure of the exact garments that they found but most of these cut up clothing are damaged/returned clothing. i remember my friend saying, when i asked him more about this, that why would they want to give away used or returned clothing when they donate unused ones?

    i understand its a waste but i think there are too many problems with the clothes not being destroyed.. the only bad thing about it is it being wasteful. by doing this they are: avoiding liabilities for bad products, people returning them when they never bought them, bad brand image (and let's be real, its a business and we all know this matters).

    and honestly i doubt they would just destroy perfectly wearable clothing that was unworn.. i mean look at their sales, they even sell things for $1. i think that person was shocked to see all the clothing and didnt really look for reasoning besides that it was unethical according to them.

    :flower:
     
  19. MichelleYue

    MichelleYue New Member

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    Urban Outfitters has been doing this forever. My boyfriend who use to work there said he regularly had to slash paintings that didn't sell. And many things were broken / smashed so that employees wouldn't steal the "trash" and sell it to make money for themselves.
     
  20. yourbestfriend

    yourbestfriend princely

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    From what I know about H&M only damaged clothing is slahed and made unwearable so that people coudln't take tags off and what not. Unsold clothing is usually kept in the warehouse and shipped back for resale in another season..I don't know about the merch from designer collaborations thoughl
     

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